Burma’s Struggle for Democracy: A Critical Appraisal

It is a truism that anti-authoritarian movements and organizations tend to mirror their opponents in thinking, modes of operation and political practices, and especially to become intolerant of any view that differs from that of the leadership. And indeed, in Burma’s case, the choice to elevate Aung San Suu Kyi to the status of icon for democracy has had important and potentially fatal limitations, for both the domestic and international components of the democracy campaign.

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Kabila: Release the Congolese Activists

I would like to introduce you to Sylvain Mbiye (Mushiba) Saluseke. He is the husband of a friend of mine, and a Congolese civil society activist. I introduce you to him because he has been detained without charges by Congolese security services in Kinshasa since March 17. His plight is both personal and historic. It is, of course, deeply painful for his family and loved ones, and it is also a small thread in the unraveling political story in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The longer he is detained, the worse is the fate of the country’s future. This is true not because of anything that Saluseke himself might have done or might yet do; rather, it is true because his continued detention serves as warning of how the government will act as the elections of 2016 approach.

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Amnesia: Iraq on the horizon of civilian protection issues

If it weren’t for the cruel stakes of the violence, U.S. policy in Iraq would form the perfect parody of the idea that militarized response to threats against civilians is a viable policy, let alone that this tactic could be mistaken for a strategy. After all, given the patterns of assaults against civilians in Iraq, the intervention should have come in 2006 – 2007, or even earlier, in March – April 2003, because these are the periods during which the spikes of violence against civilians reached their peak. Of course, the great irony is that no one, least of all anti-atrocity advocates, could have called for U.S. military intervention then. If anyone had wanted to suggest this policy – and no one did — there was one fatal logical flaw: the intervention had already occurred. The only time you can call for intervention is after the U.S. had left; but it would be folly to pretend that just because this little catch in the intervention logic had been resolved that the policy itself would have improved.

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